The Maryland football team’s spring game pitted the first-teamers (Team White) against the second-teamers (Team Red), and the first-teamers won, 31-3. The first-team’s touchdowns came via two fly sweeps to running back Jake Funk, a pick-six from defensive back Marcus Lewis and a 37-yard burst from running back Javon Leake.
After a competitive scrimmage last week, coach DJ Durkin said he kept the spring game atmosphere more relaxed, aiming primarily for a clean game. He got his wish, as he said there were no injuries during Saturday’s contest, which featured a running clock in the second half.
“Spring games are what they are,” Durkin said, “and we kept that clock rolling.”
Here are three takeaways from the game:
The new offense
Durkin had said previously he felt new offensive coordinator Matt Canada’s system allowed for the use of multiple running backs. It showed Saturday, with the second-team defense receiving a heavy dose of fly sweeps to Funk, including the two scores.
“What we do offensively really allows for a guy to create a role for himself,” Durkin said. “[If] you have certain strengths, those show, and we can find a way to utilize you. Jake obviously has a nose for the end zone.”
Also on display on Funk’s touchdowns was plenty of pre-snap motion, another key of Canada’s offense.
“That’s what the whole offense is based off of, [deception] and getting the defense’s eyes off of what’s actually going on,” Funk said. “There’s multiple things going on that catches the defense’s eyes and then ultimately they lose track of the ball.”
Canada has Funk and the other members of Maryland’s crowded backfield line up at a variety of positions, which allows the team’s playmakers to get the ball often, Funk said. Without the Terps’ best two quarterbacks — Tyrrell Pigrome and Kasim Hill are aiming to be fully recovered from their torn ACLs by the end of May, Durkin said — Maryland had 57 rushes to 27 passes Saturday, averaging 3.7 yards per carry and 3.6 yards per pass attempt.
“I love what we’re doing offensively,” Durkin said. “Our guys have really adapted, learned it and [are] doing a good job with it.”
The new players
Facing pressure early in the second quarter, second-team quarterback Tyler DeSue stepped up in the pocket and delivered an ill-advised throw across the field. Lewis said he instinctively broke on the ball and knew for “a couple seconds” he would make the interception.
Once the ball reached the Florida State transfer, there was nobody between him and the end zone.
“My mom couldn’t come to a lot of games since I was down [in Florida],” said Lewis, a District Heights native. “It felt good to get out here in front of my family and friends and make a good play.”
The interception was caused partially by pressure from first-team defensive lineman Byron Cowart, who also had a sack earlier in the game.
Cowart, an Auburn transfer, was the No. 1 recruit of the 2015 class, according to ESPN and Rivals.
“They’ve been consistent all spring,” Durkin said. “They’ve performed that way pretty much throughout the entire spring. … We’re excited about those guys, they’re definitely going to be big contributors for us.”
Running back Anthony McFarland, a four-star recruit who redshirted his freshman year due to injury, worked with the second team. He had a 39-yard run in the second half, the longest play of the game.
“He is who we all know he is,” Durkin said. “It just took some time.”
Another big spring game for DJ Turner
In the 2017 spring game, wide receiver DJ Turner had six catches and 126 yards. But he made just five catches during the season itself.
This time around, Turner had a game-high 52 receiving yards for the first team, accounting for more than half of the game’s passing yards.
Without DJ Moore to compete with on the depth chart, he hopes to avoid a repeat of last year and continue his success into the fall.
“I’m still waiting to have my coming-out party. I mean, making plays in the spring is cool and all, but you really want to do it in the game when fall comes,” Turner said. “Now that I’ve kind of stepped up this year and I’ve got a larger role with the offense, I feel like this year should definitely be my breakout.”